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The Classroom Issue | Written by Margot Ciccarelli

Posted on July 15 2018

The Classroom Issue | Written by Margot Ciccarelli

Every second of our lives from the moment we are born to the moment we die, we are incessantly learning whether it be subconsciously or consciously. We are constantly receiving feedback from our environment, from our observations, and from both internal and external influences.

Every new encounter can teach us some sort of new information to help us expand upon what we know about ourselves, about the world, about our craft - about anything.

So let’s talk about a rather hot topic of teachers. We have a handful of teachers in our lifetime, not necessarily all good, not necessarily all bad. One of the questions that I hear very often is :

‘What makes a good teacher?

I don’t always necessarily think that just the qualities of a good teacher matters per se, but let’s first take a closer look at what is the difference between the act of teaching and its objective.

Teaching is the act of passing knowledge along to a new person or party; the new party’s goal should be to learn from a teacher. So if a teacher enters a classroom and teaches a class, he/she is engaged in the act of teaching. An hour passes by, when the class ends, the students leave the classroom.

So let me ask you one more question now.
Has the teacher really taught if the students haven’t learnt anything?

Just because one is simply engaged in the act of doing something does not necessarily mean they are achieving their action.

How often do we see students unfocused in class or disengaged with a class or a teacher reading from a textbook or a Powerpoint?

Is the student or teacher at fault?

I say neither, it is very dependent on individual situations. However, this is often a prevalent problem when we are in an environment where we must serve and teach a large audience, the ability to personalise becomes much more difficult due to sheer numbers and we are thus unable to cater for many individuals, learning becomes a much more independent act.

Whilst we also commonly hear college is supposed to prepare us to become more independent in both the way we live and the way we take control of our education, we often see a large dropout rate as it becomes increasingly arduous to keep up with the workload or simply there is a huge dip in interest in the subject.

My personal opinion is that teachers’ main responsibility is to ignite passion in their students to want to pursue the topic they have chosen to master. But as opposed to thinking about igniting passion we are focused on results, we are focused on grades ultimately. We can draw a parallel to jiu-jitsu with students becoming focused on medals, focused on belts.

In this sort of scenario, both the teacher and student can lose their passion for the subject at hand. This is just a simple highlight of what education in the current system is like. Now let us highlight the average jiu-jitsu class. The format of a jiu-jitsu class has not really veered from the norm the last 20 years. Technique numbers have risen in heaps and bounds with the popularity of the modern guard, but in terms of class format, it has stayed fairly consistent over the years.

A lecture hall and a dojo.

Everybody has to go home after class has finished. Some students will go home and try to digest and revise what they have learnt and some will not. The parallel is extremely similar. There will be students who are completely fine with the current class format and many others who will struggle and their progress will halt.

A teacher who is passionate about teaching doesn’t focus on just the students who get it, they help every individual in the classroom. And of course, often that becomes a problem with large class sizes. How can one person help 30-40 people all at once in a 60-90 minute class? That isn’t to say there aren’t any alternatives to this issue.

How do you think we can improve the current way that jiu-jitsu is taught?

Is your instructor a good teacher or a good competitor?
How about the current education system? What are your thoughts?

Just some food for thought.

Comment and let us know your thoughts and ideas.

 

1 comment

  • Elena Stowell: July 15, 2018

    My professor James Foster is an excellent teacher. He doesn’t just show students “how” to do technique, he always includes the “why”. He precedes a complex move with the fundamental scaffold necessary students will find some level success. He is also a life long leaner of BJJ and a “student of the game.” He isn’t as wowed by the newest trick on the mats as he is by the succinct evolution of basic moves and the refinement of detail. Lastly, he is a teacher of the spirit of jiu jitsu. He has a gentle and compassionate heart and is a role for all ages of practitioners.
    On a side note – I am a high school educator and feel the need to comment on you comment that a teacher’s main responsibility is to ignite passion in their students. As an ideal I agree, but in reality, until we solve the current epidemic of apathy in our classrooms, a teacher’s passion will more often than not burn out before it can ignite many students. Curiosity is losing out to the need for intant gratification. Enjoyed the article Margot. Keep on writing!

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